Revising the past (while thinking in the future perfect tense)

Dennis A. Gioia, Kevin G. Corley, Tommaso Fabbri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Accounting for organizational history is essential to any change process. We argue, however, that the intentional revision of that history also can be important. We treat history as malleable, because events and actions from the past are susceptible to reinterpretation as organizations try to align with the way they see themselves in the present and want to see themselves in the future. Because change is a prospective, future-oriented process, whereas sensemaking is a retrospective, past-oriented process, making sense of the future requires an ability to envision the future as having already occurred, i.e. to think in the future perfect tense. We offer an initial conceptual exploration of organizational change from a revisionist history perspective that turns on future perfect thinking, a view that enlarges our conceptualization of the ways in which history affects organizational adaptation and change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-634
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Business history
  • Forecasting
  • Organizational change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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